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Budget Victim

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Dear Parent/Guardian of 5th Grade Students,

The Personal Growth & Development Program for the ******** ****** School District 5th grade students will no longer be presented due to budget issues and decrease in health services personnel. In an effort to continue our support of parents as their children begin the process of moving into adolescence, we have scheduled two parent nights to be held in May, one for boys and one for girls. Both parents and 5th grade students are invited.

A video will be shown that includes anatomy and physiology of the male reproductive system for boys and female reproductive system for girls as well as physical and emotional changes of puberty. The importance of cleanliness and hygiene during adolescence will also be discussed.

Resources for parents will be available to help devlop open communication about this very important stage of development. There will also be time for questions from parents and students. The presentation will be conducted by Plonit-bat-Plonit R.N., a former school nurse who taught this program in the classroom for many years.

If you are unable to attend the presentation, you may check out the video, “Just Around the Corner,” by calling Health Services at XXX-XXXX.

s/ Director, Support Services.

First of all, “Personal Growth & Development Program” is so non-descript as to be beyond the point of ridiculous. A quick Google search (and yes, BossGiraffe, Google is my preferred search engine) pulls up many, many sites including the following options:

Let’s call this what it is: Sex Ed. That’s right. S-E-X education. If the powers-that-be can’t even write the word, how the heck can they be expected to teach about it?

Because of the fiscal nightmare in the Golden State, sex education is no longer being offered in our district. This undated letter was sent home in backpacks on 11 May — just two weeks prior to the Girls Presentation and nearly three weeks prior to the Boys Presentation. I don’t know about other 5th graders and the likelihood of said letter to get from the backpack to the mother in a timely fashion, but it took until Friday before the letter got to me. US Postal Service is far more reliable. Or email is always good.

As the financial crisis wasn’t just sprung on us, I would have to imagine that the district didn’t just make this decision last week. Most families are not just waiting around, hoping for some evening activity on a school night to be announced. Everything else is on the annual calendar; this should have been included.

Parent involvement in this topic is crucial. Unless it’s when my kid is with his peers. Then my presence is detrimental. Who in their right mind thinks that putting parents and kids together for this session will create a “safe place” for either the students or their parents?

First music. Then the arts. Even our science program has been affected by budgetary shortfalls. But sex ed? I am appalled that this decision was make without input from parents. Sexual education, of course, doesn’t shouldn’t begin in the 5th grade because, in fact, we humans are sexual beings. Sexuality is present from birth. How we talk about our bodies, the words we use for genitalia, the values and morals we model for our kids — this is lifelong sex ed and we are the experts. Or, we ought to be. But how many parents shy away from anything remotely resembling “the talk” because of his or her own discomfort? So if the school doesn’t include this in the curriculum, what happens to those students as they make their way through adolescence?

For me, I’m good with the proper language, body talk, and values. What I rely on the school is to explain the technical stuff in a way that my fifth grader can understand it. I could manage, but it seems to me that a health professional would be better suited to answer any biology questions than a rabbi.

Maybe this will cover it?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Teresa permalink
    Sunday, 15 May 2011 8:49 am

    No better job than the public school around here does of teaching basic math, I don’t know if I’d trust them to teach sex ed. 😀

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 17 May 2011 4:33 pm

      OMG — is there math involved in Sex Ed? If so, PC’s gonna have to handle this. Frume Sarah is not from the mathematicians.

  2. Sunday, 22 May 2011 8:56 am

    I feel your frustration in dealing with your local school district. This is a really inane way to run any organization, let alone the organization that is solely responsible for our children hundreds of hours a year.
    My youngest is in high school and I can encourage you that, while the letters will still be sent home last minute in the way of a flyer and you will still get stuck going to meetings mid week–because they assume that is what you live for, it will get better and you will get through it.
    You will be fine and your children will thrive. Hang in there and kudos to you for using public schools. I have less respect for people who pull out to avoid the frustration.

    Well written, too 🙂

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